Penzias joins the Bell Laboratories in Holmdel, NJ. With Robert Wilson, he starts working on ultra-sensitive microwave receivers intended for radioastronomy. In 1964, the pair notices a weak radio noise which comes from all directions. They first think that the noise is caused by New York City or by pigeon droppings on the receivers; but it turns out to be the cosmic microwave background radiation that had been predicted by the Big Bang theory.
The family sails to America and settles in New York. Penzias graduates from Brooklyn Technical High School in 1951.
Penzias attends the City College of New York. He starts with a major in chemical engineering but soon switches to physics, and graduates in 1954.
He gets a research assistant ship at the Radiation Laboratory at Columbia University, which was then involved in microwave physics. Penzias does his Ph.D. work under Charles Townes, building a maser amplifier for his radioastronomy thesis.
Wishing to continue working on challenging topics even in his retiring age, Penzias he moves to Silicon Valley, advising start-up enterprises on how to turn their offers into businesses. In recent years, he has been working on alternative approaches to energy generation.
He spends two years as a radar officer in the U.S. Army Signal Corps.
Arno Penzias shares the 1978 Nobel Prize in Physics with Pyotr Kapitsa and Robert Wilson “for their discovery of cosmic microwave background radiation”. The radiation fits exactly the predictions of the Big Bang theory that had been proposed in the 1960s: It states that the universe started about 13,8 billion years ago from a single point and has been expanding ever since. The cosmic microwave background is a remnant radiation of the early stages of the universe.
Arno Allan Penzias is born in Munich, Germany. His Jewish family has a lucky escape when they are rounded up for deportation to Poland but the shipment is aborted. Arno and his brother are evacuated to Britain in 1939. They spend half a year there before the family emigrates to America.